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Rewind This! is the complete and unadulterated history of VHS. Just when you thought it was dead, it crawls back from the movie rental wastes where it was buried, to seek REVENGE!

Several years ago, just as Rewind This! was touring the festival circuit, another VHS documentary love letter appeared in the distance, Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector. Way back then, I reviewed Adjust Your Tracking and full heartedly recommended it. It's a blast. Rewind This! stands out against it's magnetic kin as it is more informative when it comes to the history of the medium.

Adjust Your Tracking entertains as it looks closely at the world of collecting. The whos, hows and whys people collect while sometimes dabbling in the more historical elements. Rewind This! on the other hand, showcases the complete history of VHS, from it's inception, to it's battle with Beta, early legal trouble for rental stores at the beginning of the video boom that changed the way people watched movies all over the world, not to mention the way movies were made. And finally, the video crash that put so many mom and pop stores out of business.

The film also looks back at a time VHS renting was still fresh and innovative and how it left an indelible mark on us all, especially the nostalgic collector.

VHS played a very important role in the lives and the culture of America, as it still does today – as is proven by it's modern popularity and resurging interest. This is very important, not just for these nostalgic collectors or the indie film distributors who capitalize on the release of new VHS as a gimmick to draw in business. No, this resurgence is important, as Rewind This! explains, because it draws attention to the incredible number of direct to video films that will be lost to time if not preserved.

Of all films released on VHS, not even 50% have made it to DVD, let along Blu-Ray. This is a wildly frightening statistic. These cheaply made and/or poorly distributed films are often looked at as disposable and disregarded, regardless their content. This is a damn shame. Just think back to every movie you've ever watched – the hundreds and thousands of them – and imagine what it would be like if half of those you could never see again.

Many of these direct to video films aren't very good and others are down right bad, but their existence is important as a reflection of our culture during this time. The effort and vision and creativity that went into them needs our acknowledgment.

If I took only one thing away from Rewind This!, it's that serious films preservation NEEDS to take place or these films will be lost forever.

With that said, Rewind This! is a wonderfully informative and fun film that I highly recommend to anyone who lived through the VHS heyday and who felt that Adjust Your Tracking was a bit light in the loafers. If it's good enough for SXSW, then it's good enough for you! Check it out.

For more info about Rewind This!, visit buy.rewindthismovie.com.


★ ★ ★ ★




Lee Russell said...

Nice article, sir. Yeah, both of these VHS docs are pretty fantastic and it's sad to know that in this era of cheap digital distribution that there hasn't been a higher % of these films upgraded to DVD at the very least. Will Blu-Ray correct some of this? I'm not too sure about that one. Are you familiar with the podcast The Projection Booth? They covered both of these docs in-depth, talking with the people behind them. Fantastic stuff.